(*homocinematically inclined)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Men on Film: If We Picked the Oscars 2010

Borrowing a page from Siskel and Ebert back in the good ol' days, Movie Dearest's very own Men on FilmChris Carpenter, Neil Cohen and yours truly — are presenting our own version of "If We Picked the Oscars"! These aren't predictions (you can see those here), but what movies, actors, directors, et al that we would vote for if we were members of the Academy.

So without further ado, the envelope please...

The nominees for Best Picture are: Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The King's Speech, 127 Hours, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit and Winter's Bone.
And our winners would be:
CC: The Social Network is the near-perfect standout for me out of an unusually strong list of contenders.
NC: The film that transported me to a fully realized and stylized world wasn't Inception. It was the Coen Brothers' vivid True Grit.
KH: Call me and my pick old fashioned, but I was swept up by the emotion and quiet power of The King's Speech.

The nominees for Best Actor are: Javier Bardem in Biutiful, Jeff Bridges in True Grit, Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network, Colin Firth in The King's Speech and James Franco in 127 Hours.
And our winners would be:
CC: If these same performances were nominated any other year, I might well vote for Franco's intense, revelatory work in 127 Hours. However, since Firth was robbed for A Single Man, this is his year.
NC: I loved Bridges' rough and ready version of Rooster Cogburn, but Firth deserves to be rewarded for his second great performance in two years.
KH: Once again, Firth delivered a heartbreaking performance filled with strength and subtlety.

The nominees for Best Actress are: Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right, Nicole Kidman in Rabbit Hole, Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone, Natalie Portman in Black Swan and Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine.
And our winners would be:
CC: This is another incredibly strong list of performances and I'm feeling conflicted between Bening and Portman, but I would likely "vote with my heart" and go with Portman.
NC: I love Portman's cuckoo swan princess, but my vote goes with the tightly wound but oh so subtle work of Bening.
KH: I still can't get Portman's crazy ballerina out of my head.

The nominees for Best Supporting Actor are: Christian Bale in The Fighter, John Hawkes in Winter's Bone, Jeremy Renner in The Town, Mark Ruffalo in The Kids Are All Right and Geoffrey Rush in The King's Speech.
And our winners would be:
CC: Bale's is the showiest role and performance here, but I prefer the other more low-key nominees. I vote for the long admired but never-before-nominated Ruffalo, who was excellent as the unwilling pariah of a sperm donor/father.
NC: In another year, I'd have rushed to Rush's defense or gone to town with Renner, but how can you bail on Bale's brilliant transformation?
KH: Bale took enormous risks with a characterization that could have easily been too over-the-top.

The nominees for Best Supporting Actress are: Amy Adams in The Fighter, Helena Bonham Carter in The King's Speech, Melissa Leo in The Fighter, Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit and Jacki Weaver in Animal Kingdom.
And our winners would be:
CC: Similar to my feelings about Bale in the same film, I thought Leo's role/performance a bit too flashy. I would vote for the amazing Steinfeld and think most Academy voters are doing the same.
NC: Leo was spot-on as the trashy mom, but Steinfeld made an incredible first impression full of her own "true grit".
KH: Her co-star is getting all the press, but I was taken by Adams' ballsy "bar girl".

The nominees for Best Director are: Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan, Joel Coen & Ethan Coen for True Grit, David Fincher for The Social Network, Tom Hooper for The King's Speech and David O. Russell for The Fighter.
And our winners would be:
CC: Fincher's direction is masterful here, and he deserves an Oscar not only for it but his impressive body of work to date (Seven, Fight Club, Zodiac, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, et al).
NC: Fincher is hard to argue with, but the Coen Brothers reined in their excesses (mostly) with True Grit. Their virtuoso work wiped the other directors from my mind.
KH: Hooper may be the least-known of the bunch, but that doesn't mean he doesn't deserve it.

The nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay are: 127 Hours, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit and Winter's Bone.
And our winners would be:
CC: The Social Network, hands down. No one would have thought the story of Facebook's founding could be so dramatic.
NC: That dialogue! So pure and so contraction-free! True Grit was the true favorite of mine and the script was the major reason.
KH: Toy Story 3 brought the beloved animated trilogy to a bittersweet close.

The nominees for Best Original Screenplay are: Another Year, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right and The King's Speech.
And our winners would be:
CC: While it does reference many prior movies, intentionally and lovingly, Inception is still the most original and extraordinarily complex script out of this bunch.
NC: Taking her personal experience and turning it into a witty, controversial comedy, Lisa Cholodenko's script for The Kids Are All Right was all great.
KH: Have to give it to The King's Speech writer.

The nominees for Best Cinematography are: Black Swan, Inception, The King's Speech, The Social Network and True Grit.
And our winners would be:
CC: I love that four out of five of these films tended toward darkness and their DP's did equally great work, which makes it hard for me to single one of them out. I would vote here for the more traditional — and brighter — visual pageantry of The King's Speech.
NC: The burnished beauty of True Grit ruled over all the kings, swan queens, social media and dream weavers.
KH: The look of Black Swan had such a brittle realness to it that made the shocking weirdness all the more thrilling.

The nominees for Best Art Direction are: Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, Inception, The King's Speech and True Grit.
And our winners would be:
CC: Alice in Wonderland was a visual delight from beginning to end and the standout for me.
NC: Sure, it was a mess of a movie, but the Art Direction of Alice in Wonderland was divine.
KH: Unfazed by the glitz of the fantasy entrees, my vote would be for the period royal opulence of The King's Speech.

The nominees for Best Costume Design are: Alice in Wonderland, I Am Love, The King's Speech, The Tempest and True Grit.
And our winners would be:
CC: I Am Love boasts ravishing contemporary attire and star Tilda Swinton knows how to work it, but I vote for the various, more classic styles on display in The King's Speech.
NC: True, the Oscar-worthy Swinton looked glorious; but Alice in Wonderland trumped the others visually (if never emotionally).
KH: Again, royalty reigns for me with The King's Speech.

The nominees for Best Original Score are: How to Train Your Dragon, Inception, The King's Speech, 127 Hours and The Social Network.
And our winners would be:
CC: The composers of all these did very interesting work and I loved Hans Zimmer's frequent nods to the Bond movies' musical guru, the late John Barry, in Inception. However, The King's Speech score is the most emotionally affecting of them, which always gets me in the final analysis.
NC: Alexandre Desplat is my single favorite composer, and since he wasn't recognized for The Ghost Writer, he deserves an Oscar for his royal triumph in The King's Speech.
KH: How to Train Your Dragon's Celtic-flavored music scored with me.

The nominees for Best Original Song are: “Coming Home” from Country Strong, “I See the Light” from Tangled, “If I Rise” from 127 Hours and “We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3.
And our winners would be:
CC: “I See the Light” is a new classic among Disney films and other movie musicals. I predict it will also serve as a lovely wedding ballad for years to come.
NC: “I See the Light” is light and lovely.
KH: It's a toon tune sweep again: “I See the Light” was the highlight of Tangled.

The nominees for Best Film Editing are: Black Swan, The Fighter, The King's Speech, 127 Hours and The Social Network.
And our winners would be:
CC: This category is where Black Swan really scored for me. With its quick cuts between dance & drama and sanity & insanity, the editing was (as the film's lead character would surely agree) perfect.
NC: You almost want to black out from the wildly effective editing of Black Swan.
KH: It was the editing of 127 Hours that made it so "edge-of-your-seat" satisfying.

The nominees for Best Visual Effects are: Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, Hereafter, Inception and Iron Man 2.
And our winners would be:
CC: Inception may not have been the flashiest of the nominees, but its effects felt the most organic and realistic to me.
NC: Hereafter's tsunami recreated an event we all saw on CNN, but this is about the only place for me where Inception planted the idea of perfection in my mind.
KH: Inception brought it in the effects sequences, both big and small.

The nominees for Best Sound Mixing are: Inception, The King's Speech, Salt, The Social Network and True Grit.
And our winners would be:
CC: Inception featured the most "bang" in this category, especially when compared with the just plain noisy Salt.
NC: Again, Inception was a dream in this category.
KH: Remember the infamous ending of Inception...?

The nominees for Best Sound Editing are: Inception, Toy Story 3, Tron: Legacy, True Grit and Unstoppable.
And our winners would be:
CC: Inception, ditto my remark above but here applied to Unstoppable.
NC: Uh-oh, how did I end up giving Inception a third award? Because these accolades have nothing to do with its derivative script.
KH: ... we're still waiting for the sound of that top falling.

The nominees for Best Makeup are: Barney's Version, The Way Back and The Wolfman.
And our winners would be:
CC: Lycanthrope master Rick Baker scores again with the granddaddy of all cinematic werewolves, The Wolfman.
NC: True, Benecio del Toro is already half werewolf, but how can you compare the fabulous work Baker did with these other films?
KH: I just can't give it to Baker for another werewolf movie, so I'll go for the sunburns and Colin Farrell tattoos of the sight-unseen The Way Back.

The nominees for Best Animated Feature are: How to Train Your Dragon, The Illusionist and Toy Story 3:
And our winners would be:
CC: Though I consider Toy Story 2 the best of the trilogy, Toy Story 3 triumphs here over its very worthy rivals.
NC: Nothing toyed with audiences emotions like Toy Story 3, about which grown men admitted bawling.
KH: Toy Story 3 was an instant classic, animated or otherwise.

The nominees for Best Foreign Language Film are: Biutiful from Mexico, Dogtooth from Greece, In a Better World from Denmark, Incendies from Canada and Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi) from Algeria.
And our winners would be:
CC: Since Biutiful is the only nominee here I've seen to date, it gets my vote. It is morose in spots and gets long but it has effective moments and Bardem is great as usual.
NC: I found Biutiful anything but, so I always hope to live In A Better World.
KH: Dogtooth was a trip, but I found Biutiful emotionally and spiritually rich.

The nominees for Best Documentary Feature are: Exit Through the Gift Shop, Gasland, Inside Job, Restrepo and Waste Land.
And our winners would be:
CC: In the absence of the wonderful Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work in this category, Exit Through the Gift Shop emerges on top.
NC: Our Wall Street leaders bled us dry and all we got was this lousy T-shirt... and the chilling documentary Inside Job.
KH: Rarely does the doc branch offer up a not-so-serious nominee, and Exit Through the Gift Shop was a hoot-and-a-half.

The nominees for Best Documentary Short are: Killing in the Name, Poster Girl, Strangers No More, Sun Come Up and The Warriors of Qiugang:
And our winners would be:
CC, NC, KH: Sadly, time is truly too short to see everything and we haven't had the privilege of viewing any of these yet.

The nominees for Best Animated Short are: Day & Night, The Gruffalo, Let's Pollute, The Lost Thing and Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary).
And our winners would be:
CC: Some great work here but the odd, moving The Lost Thing is easily my favorite.
NC: Day & Night didn't say anything profound, but as they say, getting there is more than half the fun.
KH: With its mixture of old school traditional animation and 3-D CGI, Pixar's Day & Night showcased the bets of both worlds.

The nominees for Best Live Action Short are: The Confession, The Crush, God of Love, Na Wewe and Wish 143.
And our winners would be:
CC: Wish 143 is an irreverent but touching delight.
KH: It's a great year for this category, with five worthy contenders. In the end, Wish 143 proves to be as irresistible and persistent as its protagonist.

And now for our own special category of dishonorable mention, the Worst Nomination of the Year:
CC: While this is a rare year in which I feel all the nominees in every category are well-deserved, I wish the directors' branch would have passed over the Coen Brothers (who won the Best Director Oscar just 3 years ago) in favor of either Christopher Nolan for Inception or Debra Granik for Winter's Bone. True Grit, while good, isn't as strikingly directed as these two haunting visions.
NC: My pick is for the noisy incoherence of Inception as Best Picture over the superior-in-every-way Shutter Island. Leo and his wife's mental struggles were better and the whole reality vs. fantasy was so much more involving on Scorcese's creepy psycho island.
KH: I could go for such easy targets as the redundant Harry Potter Art Direction (come on, half of the movie took place in a tent!) or Randy Newman's Randy Newman-esque Toy Story theme song. Instead, I'll aim for the big guns and go with the overrated Jesse Eisenberg of The Social Network, considering his questionable Best Actor nomination Oscar-blocked such worthier candidates as Get Low's Robert Duvall and Blue Valentine's Ryan Gosling.

And finally, see the comments section below for how we would rank the 10 Best Picture nominees, just like how Academy members are required to do now when they vote.

And while you're there, tell us who and what you would vote for too!

Illustrations by Adam Simpson for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).


  1. My rankings would be:

    1. The King's Speech
    2. Toy Story 3
    3. 127 Hours
    4. Black Swan
    5. The Fighter
    6. The Social Network
    7. Inception
    8. Winter's Bone
    9. True Grit
    10. The Kids Are All Right

  2. Um, why is Eisenberg's nomination questionable? First, he was phenomenal in The Social Network, and the fact that he is too young and that he played an atypical, non-showy Oscar role and still got in is a testament to his abilities. Plus he wasn't snubbed in any of the Globes, BAFTA, SAG and BFCA, unlike Gosling and Duvall, whose certainties were shaky. They have no traction and support at all, I expected them to get snubbed so why even question Eisenberg's Actor slot?

  3. Chris's ranking of the Best Pic noms:
    1. The Social Network
    2. Winter's Bone
    3. Inception
    4. The King's Speech
    5. Black Swan
    6. Toy Story 3
    7. 127 Hours
    8. True Grit
    9. The Fighter
    10. The Kids are All Right

  4. Neil's Best Picture Ranking:
    1. TRUE GRIT
    5. TOY STORY 3

    I would prefer to leave the other two off the list altogether, but if pressed to Rank them, it would be:
    9. 127 HOURS
    100. INCEPTION (NOT a typo! LOL)

    It is great how we all see different greatness in the nominees.